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To serve in congregational ministry for almost 40 years is a mark of faithfulness. To have done so while preparing over 30 others to be pastors is a mark of excellence," wrote nominator Steven Gjerde, '00, of Pastor Gary Lee, who served as his internship supervisor.
In his 32 years at First Lutheran Church, Lee has built a reputation as a gifted preacher, an insightful theologian, a compassionate counselor, and an innovative leader. But his dedication to training future leaders of the church has left perhaps the greatest legacy. First's reputation as a top-notch internship site has developed because of Lee's belief that interns should have a full pastoral experience--teaching, preaching, visitation and collegial reflection.
James Bangsund, '78, who interned at First Lutheran in the late 1970s, said, "Gary was clearly concerned that I should grow and become further empowered to do what God had called me to do. And I clearly saw that a proper internship would mean more work for the supervising pastors, not less." "With his leadership, our intern program has flourished and is a dynamic part of our congregation," said Betty Schmitt, church secretary and office manager at First Lutheran. "He has challenged our congregation, and the congregation has met the challenge of financially supporting the intern program and enthusiastically encouraging it."
Lee served his first call in Williams Bay,Wis., for seven years before coming to First Lutheran.
Pastor Ann Svennungsen's commitment to the future of the church is evident in her resumच. A nationally-known speaker, writer and Bible study leader, she has served both as a parish pastor and as leader of the Fund for Theological Education (FTE). The FTE is a leading advocate for excellence and diversity in Christian ministry.
"Her pastoral presence and broad grasp of the doctrine of vocation make her not only uniquely qualified to lead the institution but to receive this award for her faithfulness to the church in general and the office of ministry in particular," Chris Enstad, '00, wrote in his nomination letter.
"All throughout her parish ministry Ann has had a knack for noticing gifts and abilities for service," said colleague Nancy Windels, '94. "Now at FTE she can do the same ministry by putting 'legs' under the invitation and help young people find a way to come to ordained ministry."
Svennungsen is both the first woman president of the FTE and the first to come directly out of parish ministry. Before accepting the call to FTE, she was the senior pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead, Minn., and served congregations in Minneapolis and Iowa City, Iowa.
Patricia Lull, dean of students at Luther Seminary, said, "Ann is a significant role model for women in ministry. As a preacher and parish pastor, she embodies the kind of pastoral imagination that helps the Gospel sing in the 21st century. She has served in a variety of contexts, maintained her poise and passion for ordained service through challenges of parenting, dual-career family, and health crisis. That's my idea of faithfulness."
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